Water Liars – “Water Liars”
“On Water Liars’ self-titled release, the songs continue to palpably document the rises and falls at the fringes of everyday life.” – CBCameron Barham
out of 10
February 4th, 2014
Big Legal Mess
“The excursion is the same when you go looking
for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.”
– Eudora Welty, Author and Photographer
The travails of the road etch deep within the attentive a mix of both joy and sorrow as stories of love, fortunes, and life all gained and lost swirl by with each rippling mile. The best artists are able to capture this ebb and flow in vivid relief so that the audience can feel each passing wave of joy and sorrow. Water Liars has brilliantly done this yet again on their newest record, a self-titled full length.
The regulars Justin Kinkel-Schuster, vocals and guitar, and Andrew Bryant, vocals and percussion, are joined by G.R. Robinson on bass. This record continues the band’s amazing musical journey with a bit more overall refinement (though not too much so as to lose their identity). The music doesn’t feel as daring overall as on previous releases, however, this allows Kinkel-Schuster’s vocals and storytelling to be more vividly on display.
In what is becoming their signature, the album opens with heavy drums and heavily distorted guitar riffs before settling into the descriptive “Cannibal” on which Kinkel-Schuster wonders of the protagonist, “Do you bruise every fruit, that may come, unto your hand?, Does it feel good, does it feel sweet, to let the juice run down your chin?” The distortion continues to waft through “War Paint” into the first single from the record, “I Want Blood.” I have been belting out with accentuated drawl, “With a horse inside my head, and a wolf beneath my ribs, always driftin’ into battle, with a sigh on my lips, ‘Cause I want blood all the time…” much to my wife’s wonderment (“Why would you want blood…all the time?”) and chagrin (“Why don’t you leave the singing to the professionals?”).
The next track, “Swannanoa”, could easily be this generation’s “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.” It is a perfectly gentle ballad of suffering and seeking in which Kinkel-Schuster opines: “So I went down to Tampa, to find me an answer, but it wasn’t comin’, and neither was she, so I tried Swannanoa, where nobody knows me, got so goddamn lonesome, that I had to leave.” On what could be the most straightforward love song in the Water Liars catalogue, “Let It Breathe”, Kinkel Schuster confesses over gently plucked guitar, “There’s a place inside your heart, baby I believe, it’s been rainin’ there so long, and sometimes you can’t hardly see; Then I’ll come along and clear up everything; Get it right, get it right, get right; Baby come with me.”
The two songs that highlight what I most love about Water Liars’ music are “Tolling Bells” and “Last Escape.” On “Tolling Bells”, the song begins softly in the distance before drawing near first with the drums and then reverb-soaked guitar strummed with some restraint as Bryant and Kinkel-Schuster declare with some measure of sarcasm, “You should see me now, my girl, See me sleepin’ in my car, my girl, See me shootin’ for the stars, my girl, See just how right you are, my girl” before the song washes out emphatically in a wall of sound. In the same way, “Last Escape” waltzes cautiously toward the conclusion where Kinkel-Schuster (with Bryant’s dark harmony) declares, “No love is takin’ you away, the songs are the last escape, a song’s keepin’ me awake, are the songs, that set my heart to break” which tips the music over the edge causing it to rupture open violently. I love having that threat of release paired with the trembling slower songs which Water Liars are experts at creating.
On Water Liars’ self-titled release, the songs continue to palpably document the rises and falls at the fringes of everyday life. Take yet another trip deep into the varied out of the way places of which Water Liars bare such vivid witness.
Water Liars – “I Want Blood”